30 November 2006

New Blogger in the Family

We've got a new blogger in the house! Our Sister Mary Berchmans has begun a blog called, "Visitation Connections" for the purpose of facilitating a forum for dialogue among the six schools in the Visitation Network. If you have a moment to drop in and visit her blog, you can find it here.

If we may be so bold as to say so -- most people, after a long career in administration settle into hobbies such as knitting or crocheting -- and good hobbies they are! We think it is meritorious that Sister Mary Berchmans has included blogging as one of her new "hobbies" (but we're pretty sure we'll still see her doing bargello needlepoint!!)

27 November 2006

Solemn Profession Approaching

In case our readers are wondering why our blogposts have been so few and far between, it might make sense if we mention that two of our more "tech-savvy" sisters have been in retreat since 20 November. Sister Maureen de Chantal and Sister Anne E are making their retreat in preparation for their solemn vows on 1 December. You can be sure that there will be pictures and posts to follow -- once they are both out of retreat. Stay tuned and, in the meantime, keep them in your prayers!

Archbishop Wuerl Visits Visitation!

On Monday 20 November, Archbishop Donal Wuerl celebrated Mass for our school community. He is pictured at left greeting Mother Philomena and Sister Jacqueline after the Mass.

In his homily and closing remarks, His Excellency spoke of the importance of the gift of faith. His homily was crafted as a response to a question posed by a student at another local high school: "What does the Church offer me?" Archbishop Wuerl spoke eloquently to the student body and teased about keeping his closing remarks brief, lest he upset the faculty by making students late to class.

In her opening remarks, school president Sister Mary Berchmans commented that Archbishop Wuerl stands in a long line of bishops who have counted Georgetown Visitation among the sheep of their flock -- beginning with our founder, Archbishop Leonard Neale, second bishop of Baltimore.

Georgetown Visitation is grateful for Archbishop Wuerl's visit and hope that it is the first of many such occasions.

19 November 2006

A Talking Head

It looks like a talking head, but it's actually our very own Sister Anne E, who was interviewed back in June by the Washington Post's on-line department. One would hardly know that Sister is rather shy and - most especially - camera shy. In the event that Sister seems to jump from topic-to-topic, readers should be aware that the interview was actually a little over an hour and it was skillfully edited down to just over two minutes. All kidding aside about the talking head, Sister shares honest (and, at times, amusing) pieces of her story and her journey to follow the Lord. Click here to view this short video.

16 November 2006

A Shower?

It is not exactly a "shower" as you might imagine a soon-to-be bride having, but it is more that we have experienced a great out"pouring" of generosity by our friends, benefactors and alumnae. On Tuesday evening, after supper, our faithful friends, Nan and Kathy, brought samples of material for various aspects of our new monastery.

When we moved out, in April, for this long-awaited renovation, many of us were sleeping on mid-nineteenth century civil war hospital beds. As quaint as it may seem, it should be mentioned that some of our bedding appeared to be as old as the beds. In order to prepare us for a fresh, new beginning when we move into the monastery, Nan and Kathy, brought samples of materials and colors for sisters who may need new bedding, towels, etc. We had almost as much fun passing around the samples as we did speculating about what "flamingo" colored towels might look like in a sedate baby-blue cell. We are most grateful to all those whose thoughtfulness and generosity are making our renovation possible. (Nan and Kathy are pictured with some of the sisters who are examining the samples. )

13 November 2006

Sr. Stanislaus and her Patron(s)

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka, patron saint of our faithful infirmarian, Sister Stanislaus -- affectionately called "Sr. Stannie." She is pictured here, (on Ash Wednesday, you might notice) moving a few items into our "temporary infirmary," which has served us well during our time of exile. At current, Sister is making her annual retreat but we will surely celebrate in her honor. Sister is the third "Stanislaus" in the history of our monastery -- spanning an almost-unbroken two centuries with a "Sister Stanislaus" in our community.

For years the feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka was a "recreation day" for the sisters in the novitiate (our newer members remind us continually about the renewing this tradition). When Sister made her solemn vows and left the novitiate, she was made an honorary member of the novitiate on 13 November, every year, when she would join them for their recreation day.

It is fitting that, as infirmarian, Sister's Feast Day falls on the commemoration of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, patron saint of hospital administrators. As infirmarian, Sister keeps all of us healthy. The infirmary is, beyond doubt, the neatest, cleanest and most well-organized office in the house. In fact, it is such a pleasant place to visit, it is a wonder we don't get sick more often!
For a biography of St. Stanislaus click here. For a biography of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, first citizen of the United States to be canonized, click here.

10 November 2006

Pope St. Leo the Great

There are many compelling reasons to pray for the Church today -- both the local Church and the Church Universal. The media does not always portray the Church in a charitable light and differences among Catholics are emphasized and -- all too often -- exploited. As discouraging as this can be, it is helpful to remember that the Church has seen difficult times in her past. Today, we commemorate a saint under whose watch the Church saw many difficulties.

During his papacy, St. Leo the Great combated several five and six-syllable heresies as well as an invasion by the Huns. Perhaps one of the intentions closest to his heart was that of Church unity. As we honor his memory today, let us ask his intercession for a greater unity of hearts and minds in the Church.

For a (relatively) short -- but stellar -- homily on the Incarnation, click here.

"I will dwell only on that union which we ought to have with each other. This union has been earnestly preached and taught to us by Our Lord, equally in word and example. . . . To love God without loving the neighbor, who is created in His image and likeness is impossible!"
St. Francis de Sales

07 November 2006

Irritation or Invitation?

So often we hear heaven referred to as the "heavenly banquet." In today's Gospel, Jesus is responding to a fellow guest who remarked about those who will dine in the Kingdom of God; he replies by telling the parable of the invited guests who make excuses as to why they cannot come to the dinner. Although it may be difficult for us to imagine ourselves making excuses, at the last minute, about why we are unable to attend a formal event we might consider the metaphor on its deeper level. If it is the Kingdom of God to which we are invited, how often do we make excuses?

We are invited to a foretaste of heaven, here on earth, when we live in accord with God's will -- in union with His heart. How often are we presented with opportunities to taste heaven and how often do we mistake them for something else? Perhaps we are assigned to work with someone who is very skilled at trying our patience. Do we see it as an irritation and try to get out of the assignment or do we see it as an invitation from the Lord to make his Kingdom present by the way in which we cheerfully overlook the shortcomings of our neighbor. Perhaps the only available seat in the lunchroom today is next to someone whom we do not like. Do we see that as an invitation to the heavenly banquet -- to be polite and cordial to one whom we would prefer to avoid or do we think of a reason why we need to have lunch in our office -- or at a later time?

The Kingdom of God is at hand -- at our hands -- we have only to respond generously and lovingly.

"Let us walk joyously among the difficulties of this passing life; let us embrace with open arms all the mortifications and afflictions that we will meet on our way, since we are sure that these pains will have an end when our mortal life ends."
St. Francis de Sales

04 November 2006

Humility: True or False?

Today's Gospel is a gentle reminder to cultivate that very attractive -- yet very hidden -- virtue of humility. Jesus gives us the example of one who seats himself at a wedding, suggesting that he should seek of place of lesser honor so as to avoid the humiliation of being demoted, so to speak, were a higher ranking guest to arrive. This example, however, might seem a little foreign to us in a culture where our social structures often preclude such an embarrassing faux pas. Today, most weddings or other formal events have pre-arranged seating assignments. In view of this, we might have a hard time seeing this Gospel as little more than a lesson in politeness.

What Jesus is getting at, it seems, is the interior disposition of the person. We should not seek places of honor, yet we should accept them graciously if they are offered to us. If we were to sit at a lower place in order that we may be noticed when our seat is changed then, perhaps, we have lowered our seat without humbling our heart. If, however, we were to sit at a lower place, content to be there and accept graciously an offer to move higher -- if we receive such an offer -- we find our heart in quite a different place. It is not where we sit that matters so much as how our hearts are disposed. And that is known to God alone.

It should come as no surprise that St. Francis de Sales has a great deal to say about this most august of virtues. This is a mere snippet:
"We pretend to hide ourselves, so that the world may seek us out. We feign to wish ourselves to be considered the last in the company and to sit down at the lowest end of the table, but it is with a view that we may be invited to pass more easily to the upper end. True humility does not make a show of itself or use many humble words; for she desires not only to conceal all other virtues, but most of all to conceal itself."
St. Francis de Sales

01 November 2006

Solemnity of All Saints

Why on earth are we sporting a picture of the Pantheon on the Solemnity of All Saints? We could make our readers guess and hold a little contest in the comment box to see which of our readers knows the history of today's Solemnity...but it's not fair to make our readers guess. The Pantheon was built by the Emperor Hadrian as a temple for "all gods" -- hence the name, borrowed from the Greek. About three centuries after the Church began commemorating "all martyrs" Pope St. Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon as a Christian Church under the patronage of the Mother of God and the Holy Martyrs. Over the course of the next two centuries (and thanks to a couple of Popes named "Gregory") a Chapel in St. Peter's Basilica was dedicated to "all saints" and the Solemnity was formally extended to the whole Church on 1 November. A happy Solemnity to all our readers!

"A sad saint is a sorry saint!"
St. Francis de Sales